Prep football Week 1: Back in the saddle

Last year: Upper Sandusky 40-19.

Outlook: It’s not a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game yet. That begins next year when the Upper Sandusky football team joins the other Rams squads in the N10.

But the two teams know each other, having played non-conference games the last number of years.

Still, this game has some new wrinkles to it.

For one, Upper Sandusky has a new coach in Chris Rodriguez, and a new starting quarterback in Seth Frey.

“I’m looking for us to be able to run the ball, throw the ball and spread it out across the field,” Rodriguez said.

Carey coach Todd Worst said he expected some changes on offense, but not much.

“A little bit,” Worst said. “Coach Rodriguez was helping with the offense last couple years.”

The big key for Carey will be how its defense performs. It gave up 40 points to the Rams last season, and then had some tough defensive games later in the year.

“I think defense will tell us a lot about how we may play this year,” Worst said. “Hopefully we’ll make some big plays on defense and get some stops.”

Rodriguez said he expects his players to be excited and nervous, and that’s the way he wants it.

“I just want them to play full-go, 100 miles an hour for 48 minutes,” he said.

New London at Buckeye Central

Last year: New London, 20-6

Outlook: The first week of the regular season always has question marks, but Buckeye Central has more than usual against New London.

Thom Lesiecki is in his first year back coaching the Wildcats, which can be problematic for preparation

“It’s difficult with Week 1, especially (against a team) with new coaching staff,” said Buckeye Central coach Jeff Niedermier. “We have to wait and see what they come out with. Prepare as best we can.”

Niedermier said he’s seen some NL scrimmages, but that usually isn’t a great sign of what a team will do.

The Bucks will start Grant Loy at quarterback. Loy missed all of last year after suffering an injury in the preseason. When asked if he expected his QB to be anxious, Niedermier said no more than any other player.

“He’s a good kid,” Niedermier said. “We expect some first-game jitters from everybody. I think he will settle down and be just fine.”

Mohawk at Pleasant

Last year: Pleasant, 58-12

Outlook: New Mohawk coach Brent Konkle will make his debut on the road against a Pleasant squad that went 7-3 a season ago.

Konkle expects the Spartans to be strong again.

“Pleasant’s traditionally a solid team,” Konkle said. “They make you compete every single night.”

Konkle said the Spartan offense can cause defenses problems.

“They do stretch the field well,” Konkle said. “Defensively we have to read our keys… tackling is the key.”

The Mohawk offense will be led by former star running back Gunnar Johnson, who is playing quarterback this season.

“I expect him to be our team leader on the field and verbally,” Konkle said.

Fostoria at Toledo Scott

Last year: Did not play.

Outlook: Fostoria heads north Friday to face a new opponent, hoping to end a school-record 20-game losing streak in Derek Kidwell’s first game as coach of his alma mater.

“I feel we’ve progressed as a team. We’ve seen some growth,” said Kidwell, who led FHS to the 1991 state title as a senior quarterback. “The biggest thing is, these kids feel good as a team. They have confidence in themselves. That’s important because they’ve been 0-20 the last two years.”

Stopping the losing streak won’t come easily.

The Bulldogs return their best running back from last year and have another fast runner paired with him, giving Kidwell something to worry about.

“Speed, speed, speed. They’ve got two very fast, very talented tailbacks (seniors Kevin Banks and Glenn Joyce) they like to get the ball to so we’ve got stop the run,” he said. “They’re very big up front. They don’t have a lot of elaborate blocking up front, but they’re big and if they get a head on you, they’ll move you.”

Kidwell said the defense is also tough, but he feels the Redmen will have success.

“I think offensively, we can create match-up problems with our Spread. They like to run man-to-man in the secondary, and if you run [pass routes against] man-to-man, you can exploit mismatches,” he said. “We’ll have to use our speed to control them. We’ll have to use our packages and move a lot to cause problems.”

South Central at Seneca East

Last year: Seneca East 54-21.

Outlook: Seneca East returns to the field for 2014 with a familiar opponent in South Central.

Now the Tigers will be hoping for a familiar result.

The Trojans were 0-10 a season ago, and Seneca East coach Ed Phillips said he has a pretty good idea of what they will want to do.

“They’re gonna run the football, run the football and they’re gonna want to run the football some more,” Phillips said.

The SE coach hopes to counter that with strong play up front.

And that goes for both sides of the ball.

“I want to dominate the line of scrimmage, come out and dominate line of scrimmage,” Phillips said. “I think our guys can be pretty good up there.”

SE’s Alex Scheiber is making his first start at quarterback. Phillips is guessing his QB can’t wait to get out there.

“Alex is an aggressive player by nature,” Phillips said. “He’s gonna get out there and lay his pads on somebody.”

Lakota at Arcadia

Last year: Lakota 38-0.

Outlook: Lakota will start the year in what will be a familiar setting – on the road.

“We’ve got a bunch of those this year. We’re taking on the ‘road warrior’ mentality. This is the first of seven and something we’ve kid of prepared for,” coach Eric Brickman said. “I think the kids are just excited to get the season started and on the right foot.”

The Raiders start their sojourn at Arcadia this fall, and Brickman said this year’s Redskins should pose more challenges than last year.

“Last year Arcadia had some kids out . This year they have a real nice receiver (Terrance Cheeks), he’s a big kid, deceptively fast. Their running back (A.J. Lentz) is pretty fast and can get through the hole,” he said. “We have to contain them offensively. That’s one of our areas of emphasis this week – get it stopped before it gets going.”

Arcadia’s other side of the ball might not be as challenging, but Brickman said the Redskins will be far from easy.

“Defensively, Arcadia has struggled a little bit. I think they’re a little young on that side of the ball. I think our kids are in a good frame of mind about being aggressive. They’re ready to get going,” he said.

“They like to bring some pressure and blitz . We’ve been preparing for that,” Brickman said. “They’re not just going to stay stationary for you. We have to be ready for that.”

St.Wendelin at Hardin Northern

Last year: St. Wendelin, 26-24

Outlook: St. Wendelin rallied for a win over Hardin Northern in Week 1 last year, and Mohawks’ coach Jim Bodart is guessing that the Polar Bears remember.

“They’re gonna be looking for a little bit of payback,” Bodart said.

The coach said he knows what to expect from Hardin Northern

“They were young for a while,” Bodart said. “They’re getting to be an older team now, they got their numbers back. They’re always physical; that’s the way they’re raised.”

So Bodart says the Mohawks have to match that physicality.

“I think the key for us is going to be in execution,” he said, noting he has a big group of sophomores on his roster. “You can get them to play like juniors or freshman.We need to get that group to play like juniors to match that physical play.”

— By The A-T?Sports Staff